Today is going to be a fun topic. I'm going to talk briefly about video and why you should film yourself play. I am also going to throw an offer out there for the first 3 people that reply to this with a youtube link to one of their squash games. If you don't mind other people seeing your video and reading my critique, I encourage 3 brave souls to submit a video for me to watch and provide feedback. Just 1 or 2 games will do. Let me know which player you are (what you're wearing), your name, and which game(s) of the match it is. First 3 to respond with a youtube video link get a free video analysis. I will be sharing this with my readers in a future post, so if you don't want everyone to see your video and hear my opinion than do not submit your video. But don't worry, I won't list everything you need to work on. I will limit it to the 3 things I feel are most crucial to improving your game and playing better squash. So post your video link now in the comment section below and then finish readed the rest of today's blog.
I enjoy watching video for a number of reasons. Often we think (perceive) we are doing one thing and playing a certain way, but when we watch it on film it looks much different. There are so many things you can learn from watching yourself play. You can look at your shot selection, your racquet preparation, if you're calling your lets, your body language, where you T is (if you get to it!), how often you volley (or don't), how tight and deep your drives are, how you move around the court, and so on.
I also really enjoy watching professionals play. My favourite players to watch are Ramy Ashour, Greg Gaultier, Amr Shabana, and Mohammed Elshorbagy. As you can guess I like watching attacking players. I like watching Greg because I am around the same size as him and I can appreciate how small he makes the court play. He has an amazing lunging ability and strength across the middle of the court. Ramy is very creative and when he's healthy he's the best player and most fun to watch. Amr is technically and tactically so sound and his drives and drops are so tight. He rarely clips the side wall on these shots as his lines really are the best in the game. He is also very deceptive from the front of the court and seems to have an innate sense for the open court. He really makes the game look easy. Mohammed on the other hand is just the hardest hitting player, at least the most consistently hardest hitting player. He can also get from the T to any ball/corner in the blink of an eye. Even though he holds his racquet so eye and crowds the ball he still had an unbelievable retrieving ability. His fitness for playing this high paced game for long stretches at a time is the best in the game. And I love his deceptive forehand drop where he looks like he's going to crush the ball and drops the racquet face open and hits a tidy cut drop shot. It's such a difficult shot to hit, I wonder how many of these he's hit in practice over the years. Pretty cool to see new shots still being developed. After watching some of these guys before going to the courts I always play better squash. We learn vicariously from watching stronger players. If you enjoy watching the pros play, do so before you play next. And better yet, pick someone that plays similar to you/well how you would like to play. Also watching someone with a similar body type (height, weight, gender) can be even more beneficial.
With the ease of filming devices nowadays it is something every keen squash player should do. You can even film yourself solo hitting, ghosting, or doing drills and learn a lot. The only issue I've encountered with filming is with my team. I have a lot of hours of footage of unwatched film. This is why I encourage people to do their own filming. Almost everyone has a phone with video or an iPad.
After you film yourself play simply watching it is excellent, but you can also do some charting if you want to dig deeper. Try charting where your drives land, or try counting how long each rally is, and this is always a favourite of mine, try charting if you volley the return of serve or not and what the result of that rally is. You can also chart your shot selection from one area of the court. For example, draw a aerial view of a squash court. If you want to track your shot section front right corner, anytime you hit a ball under little to moderate amounts of pressure put a dot where the ball you hit lands (or an x if it's volleyed and use a different coloured pen/pencil for unforced errors). After an entire match you may see a trend developing.
I enjoy watching squash, whether it's myself, my students, or the pros. I enjoy analyzing and seeing improvement from week to week and month to month. The use of video is an excellent method to monitor improvement and to learn more about your game (and your opponents). I believe it also helps with visualization as you'll have a clearer picture of how you look while playing.
Stay tuned for my match analysis of the first 3 submitted youtube squash match video links. I will write this up in a future post and will include their video links and feedback for you to see what I'm talking about and if you agree or not with my diagnosis.